Senior Managers Review Nuclear Power Plant Performance

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No. 99-95
May 6, 1999


Senior managers of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission briefed the Commission today on the results of their April 20-21 review of the performance of nuclear power plants.

The NRC is in the process of transitioning to a new reactor oversight process, which will not make use of a "Watch List" or the Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance (SALP) reports. As such, a revised process has been used to categorize the plants considered as requiring one of three levels of attention: agency focus, calling for the attention of the Executive Director for Operations and/or the Commission; regional focus, calling for special attention from the appropriate Regional Administrator; and routine focus, calling for normal everyday oversight.

The Senior Managers' recommendations were concurred in by the Commission.

Three plants will be the subject of agency focus. They are:

  • Millstone Unit 2, operated by Northeast Utilities (NU) of Waterford, Connecticut. Unit 2 was given NRC approval last week to restart following a long shutdown.
  • D.C. Cook Units 1 and 2, operated by American Electric Power Co., 11 miles south of Benton Harbor, Michigan. NRC notified the licensee last July of a declining performance trend. Although the licensee has been appropriately responding to significant operability concerns during a prolonged outage, NRC validation of the licensee's work continues. Moreover, as the plants are currently receiving agency level attention, NRC senior managers concluded that continued agency-level oversight is appropriate.

Two other plants are the subject of regional focus. They are:

  • Millstone Unit 3, operated by NU, which resumed operations last year after a long shutdown.
  • Clinton, operated by Illinois Power Co., six miles east of Clinton, Illinois.

The senior managers determined that four other plants operated by Commonwealth Edison had made sufficient progress to return to routine oversight. These plants are Quad Cities Units 1 and 2, near Moline, Illinois, and La Salle Units 1 and 2, near Ottawa, Illinois.

All the other nuclear power plants are in the normal oversight category.

No nuclear materials facilities warranted discussion at the public meeting.

As recently directed by the Commission, NRC eliminated its Watch List as part of its development of a new oversight process for nuclear power plants and major fuel cycle facilities.

Although NRC's Watch List system had long focused agency and licensee attention on plants with declining performance, a new more objective and timely inspection and assessment process will accomplish this through the use of 15-20 risk-informed performance indicators and inspections, allowing the agency to direct its resources more effectively. The revised oversight process will start on a pilot basis at nine sites beginning next month. Full implementation currently is scheduled to begin in January 2000.

The first Watch List was issued in October 1986, reflecting evaluations by agency senior managers based on inspections of the plants by NRC staff, performance data, and operating events and information reported by the utilities, as well as by other information. The Watch List had been issued twice a year at a public meeting where the agency's senior managers present their assessments to the Commission. The last Watch List was issued last July. The Commission briefing following the April 2000 senior management meeting will identify only those plants warranting agency-level attention. Plants warranting regional focus will be determined through inspection and the senior management meeting process.

The NRC also stopped issuing letters to licensees operating plants with superior performance because it has eliminated the existing basis for that determination. The Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance was suspended last September, and the Plant Performance Review process was enhanced to include a new level of assessment, until the new system has been put into effect at all 103 operating nuclear power plants.

EDITORS: Texts of letters to utilities with plants warranting increased regulatory attention will be available on the NRC's Internet home page

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, March 24, 2021